September 2014: The Importance of Punctuality and Keeping Appointments

I’m sure that your lives, like mine, revolve around “keeping an eye on the time.”  Whether for personal or professional obligations, we can’t get away from our time obligations and the need to stay on schedule for fear of turning our whole day upside down.  And yet it continuously amazes me (and it’s one of my pet peeves) that I still have to deal with people who seem to have no regard for, and place no value on, the importance of keeping appointments or who are perpetually late.  Consequently when I ran across this article on the Internet by Brett & Kate McKay entitled “A Man is Punctual: The Importance of Being on Time” that appeared back in 2012, it occurred to me that it is just as “timely” to share today as it was back then.  Following are some excerpts from the article.  I’d encourage you to read it in its entirety at: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/07/16/a-man-is-punctual-the-importance-of-being-on-time/.  And I have to believe that the “man” the authors refer to is the gender-neutral term as this certainly seems to apply to men and women alike.


 

The life of George Washington was characterized by a scrupulous regard for punctuality. When he told Congress that he’d meet with them at noon, he could almost always be found striding into the chamber just as the clock was striking twelve. Washington’s promptness extended to his mealtimes as well. He ate dinner each day at exactly 4 o’clock, and when he invited members of Congress to dine with him, and they arrived late, they were often surprised to find the president halfway done with his meal or even pushing back from the table. To his startled, tardy guest he would say, “We are punctual here. My cook never asks whether the company has arrived, but whether the hour has come.” And when Washington’s secretary arrived late to a meeting, and blamed his watch for his tardiness, Washington quietly replied, “Then you must get another watch, or I another secretary.” For Washington, being on time was a way of showing respect to others, and he expected to be treated with the same level of respect in return. We may no longer live in an age of knickers and powdered wigs, but being punctual is just as important as it ever was.  Here’s why.

Being punctual strengthens and reveals your integrity.

If you tell someone that you will meet them at a certain time, you have essentially made them a promise. And if you say you’ll be there at 8:00, and yet arrive at 8:15, you have essentially broken that promise. Being on time shows others that you are a man of your word.

Being punctual shows you are dependable.

A man can always be found at his post, carrying out the duties needful for that time. People know they can rely on such a man – if he says he will be there, he’ll be there. But if a man is not punctual, others cannot depend on him – they do not know where he will be when they need him. His associates will begin to feel he cannot organize his own time, and these doubts will seep into matters beyond the clock, as it naturally raises the question: “If he is careless about time, what else is he careless about?”

Being punctual builds your self-confidence.

Showing up on time not only tells other people you are dependable, it teaches you that you can depend on yourself. The more you keep the promises you make, the more your self-confidence will grow. And the more you gain in self-mastery, the less you will be at the mercy of your compulsions and habits, and the more in control of your life you will feel.

Being punctual assures you’re at your best.

After riding someone’s bumper, speeding like a maniac, scanning for cops, and cursing at red lights, it’s hard to then turn your focus to making a presentation at a meeting or charming a date – you’re shaky and depleted from the adrenaline and stress. But when you show up on time, better yet a little early, you have a few minutes to collect your thoughts, review your materials, and get your game face on.

Being punctual shows your humility.

That bumper sticker maxim: “Always late, but worth the wait” shows that tardiness and an overestimation of one’s worth sometimes go hand in hand. People will be glad to see you when you arrive, but they would have been gladder still had you come on time.

Being punctual shows your respect for others.

Being late is a selfish act, for it puts your needs above another’s. You want an extra minute to do what you’d like, but in gaining that minute for yourself, you take a minute from another, which is why….

Being late is a form of stealing.

That’s a tough truth, but it’s a truth nonetheless. When you make others wait for you, you rob minutes from them that they’ll never get back. Time they could have turned into money, or simply used for the things important to them. In coming to meet you at the agreed upon hour, they may have made sacrifices – woken up early, cut short their workout, told their kid they couldn’t read a story together – and your lateness negates those sacrifices. If you wouldn’t think of taking ten dollars from another man’s wallet, you shouldn’t think of stealing ten minutes from him either. Being punctual shows you value time yourself, and thus wouldn’t think of depriving others of this precious, but limited resource.

Being late strains your relationships.

When you’re late in meeting other people, it makes them feel under-valued, that whatever you couldn’t pull yourself away from was more important or that they didn’t mean enough to you to warrant allotting sufficient time to arrive on schedule. The guest who flies in to see you feels like a dope standing at the airport alone, your date feels awkward sitting at the restaurant by herself, and your child feels abandoned as she waits with her teacher for you to arrive, all the other children having already been picked up from school.

Being late hurts your professional career.

Whether you’re an employee or in business for yourself, being late can hinder your professional success. Many companies have strict policies about punctuality – get a few write-ups and you’re gone. Of course, if you arrive late to the job interview, you probably won’t land the position in the first place. And if you’re trying to win over a new client, arriving ten minutes late isn’t going to get things off on the right foot, in the same way that promising to get something to him by a certain date and then failing to do so, may have him looking elsewhere for your services.

Being late takes a toll on your life.

Always running behind simply hurts you in all areas of your life. It results in lost opportunities: missing a plane, missing a meeting, missing an important part of a lecture, missing a wedding. It creates stress and can lead to car accidents and traffic tickets. It results in embarrassment and forces you to come up with excuses for why you’re late, putting a strain on your honesty. Basically, it makes your life more complicated; for men seeking to simplify their lives, cultivating punctuality is an essential part of that path. C>

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